Drinking decaffeinated coffee may improve brain energy metabolism associated with diabetes type 2, according to a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience and carried out by researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Brain energy metabolism is a dysfunction with a known risk factor for dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Giulio Maria Pasinetti, MD, PhD, and team decided to investigate whether dietary supplementation with a standard decaffeinated coffee prior to diabetes onset could improve insulin resistance and glucose utilization in mice with diet-induced type 2 diabetes.

The mice were given the supplement for five months, after which the researchers assessed the animals’ brain’s genetic response. They discovered that the brain could metabolize glucose more effectively and that it was used for cellular energy in the brain. People with type 2 diabetes have reduced glucose utilization in the brain, which often leads to neurocognitive problems.

Dr. Pasinetti stated:

“Impaired energy metabolism in the brain is known to be tightly correlated with cognitive decline during aging and in subjects at high risk for developing neurodegenerative disorders. This is the first evidence showing the potential benefits of decaffeinated coffee preparations for both preventing and treating cognitive decline caused by type 2 diabetes, aging, and/or neurodegenerative disorders.”

Drinking coffee is not recommended for everyone, because of its association with cardiovascular health risks, including elevated blood cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which result in a higher risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and premature death. However, these negative effects have mainly been caused because of the high caffeine content of coffee – the study findings prove that some components in decaffeinated coffee have beneficial health factors for mice.

Dr. Pasinetti wants to investigate whether decaffeinated coffee as a dietary supplement in humans can act as a preventive measure.

He concludes:

“In light of recent evidence suggesting that cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related neurodegenerative disorders may be traced back to neuropathological conditions initiated several decades before disease onset, developing preventive treatments for such disorders is critical.”

Petra Rattue